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Iran Country urges US to unblock aircraft deals, seeks investors

Iran provisionally agreed earlier this year to buy over 200 jets worth $50 billion at list prices from Airbus and Boeing.

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Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei play

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei

(Washington Times)

Iran urged the United States on Sunday to remove remaining obstacles to buying passenger planes following the lifting of international sanctions and it spread out the welcome mat to foreign investors as it seeks to boost its aviation sector.

Iran provisionally agreed earlier this year to buy over 200 jets worth $50 billion at list prices from Airbus and Boeing under an agreement between Tehran and world powers to ease sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear activities.

Both deals hinge on a longer-than-expected process of winning U.S. Treasury approval, which is needed because of the high proportion of U.S. parts in virtually all modern jetliners, including those made by Europe's Airbus.

There have also been delays in getting European banks to finance the deals because of restrictions over the use of U.S. dollars and concerns over legal risks if sanctions are re-imposed.

Roads and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi told an aviation conference that Iran was complying with its obligations and continued to negotiate with other planemakers.

"We are negotiating with all those big names. ... There are a lot of obstacles but I am sure that because we have respected all the international rules and regulations, all those problems are going to be resolved," he told the CAPA Aviation Finance Summit, the second large gathering of aviation leaders in Tehran since sanctions were lifted in January.

Critics in the U.S. Congress argue that Iran could use passenger jets for military purposes such as transporting fighters to battle U.S. troops or allies in Syria or transfer the aircraft to airlines still under U.S. sanctions.

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U.S. critics of the nuclear deal also say it could allow Iran to skirt remaining sanctions by transferring jets acquired by national carrier IranAir to airlines that remain on a U.S. blacklist, such as the country's largest carrier, Mahan Air.

In an interview with Reuters, Akhoundi dismissed the concerns.

"We are committed to any contract that we sign," he said.

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